My household is privileged to own a small sailboat. And truly, it is a privilege. We are not a household of high means in the very expensive place that we live, but sailors figure it out because once you've lost your heart to the sea there can be no other way. It is, however, sometimes hard to get time to enjoy the boat, and moorage can sometimes be tough to make after all the other expenses of the month. We have been keeping our boat at a marina about 2 hours away, and so not using it nearly as often as is good for us, or for it. We made the decision to move to a closer marina, and moving the boat was the longest period of time I have spent on our boat so far.
In late March, the weather is anyone's guess, but we were blessed with a placid day of puffy clouds and sun. Since we weren't planning to sail (we needed to make time to the new marina to get there in daylight, and the winds along our planned route are fickle and capricious on the best of days), the calm waters didn't matter.
As we entered the north end of Saratoga Passage, I checked Orca Network's Facebook page, knowing that gray whales had been seen in recent weeks and wondering if any had been spotted that day. What I learned there was that there was a group of Transient Killer Whales moving north toward us in the passage! I had deliberately not considered this possibility when moving the boat, I didn't want to be disappointed if we didn't see them. But there the were, heading right toward us.
We caught up with them just north of Holmes Harbor. The water was mostly devoid of other vessel traffic, just one other boat on scene with them. In the still afternoon we could hear the blows clearly as the whales passed us, and we turned and followed them a short while since we had a little bit of time to spare.
When I'm on the whale watching boat in the summer, I often notice people completely missing the experience of being out with the whales and enjoying them because they are so very focused on getting just the right shot--something that is extremely difficult to do if one does not have specific equipment and a lot more time, if not patience and experience, than we have available on one of our tours. Sometimes I suggest to people they might want to just look at the whales and buy postcards with nice pictures on shore--of course, there aren't as many postcards to buy anymore, in this age of email and text messages. But the point remains. If this is the only few hours of your entire life that you are going to be here with these animals, maybe put the camera down and just experience it for what it is, appreciate the beauty and magic of that moment.
And, apparently I am true to my word on this in my personal behavior. Here is the unedited footage of my encounter with the Transients, taken with my phone. Clearly, I am not paying attention to the frame, because I am focused on the whales!